Students attending any high school in McPherson County are now eligible for a scholarship, even if they don’t live within county lines.

The McPherson Chamber of Commerce Ag Committee joins with Agriculture Future of America each year to provide academic scholarships to students in the county who will pursue a degree in an agriculture or food-related field. In previous years, a number of McPherson County students were ineligible simply because they didn’t meet residential requirements, so the chamber hopes to change that.

“The scholarship was only for students who live in McPherson County, but we have so many students who attend a McPherson County school and live in a neighboring county,” explained Jennifer Burch, executive director of the chamber. “We made sure we clarified the application so those students can apply too. There were students who could be good candidates, but didn’t have that opportunity to apply, so now it follows the school district lines, rather than strictly county lines.”

The scholarship consists of a $3,200 award, which includes an academic award and sponsorship for the AFA Leaders Conference.

Since 2000, the chamber has offered this scholarship through AFA. As part of the partnership, AFA will match all funds raised by partner organizations.

“The number of students we give the scholarships to depends on how much money we raise,” Burch said. “Our ultimate goal is to do at least one each year and we’ll do more as possible.”

This year, the group is starting a new event, the Mac County Round Up 5K. The run/walk 5K and one-mile races will start at 8 a.m. March 25 in Marquette. Registration fees will be used to fund the scholarship, and in future years, runners will get to race in different areas of the county.

“We want to move the race location from year to year so different communities can learn about the scholarship and take part in it,” Burch said.

Burch hopes that the knowledge gained through using the scholarship will give students the tools to later benefit their hometowns.

“If you look at what the agriculture sector consists of, it’s not just about farming. There’s a lot of misconceptions about what careers are available under the agriculture umbrella,” Burch said. “Agriculture is a growing sector, and we hope our students will fulfill their dreams in that career and hopefully return to the area to use that knowledge.”

The scholarship committee is now accepting applications. Students can apply online at http://agfuture.org/2017scholarships and applications are due by March 17.

For more information, visit http://agfuture.org or call the chamber at 620-241-3303.